Samuel Peter Heintzelman (September 30, 1805 – May 1, 1880) was a United States Army General. He served in the Seminole War, the Mexican-American War, the Yuma War and the Cortina Troubles. During the American Civil War he was a prominent figure in the early months of the war rising to the command of a corps.
The World War II Liberty ship SS Samuel Heintzelman, launched on 30 September 1942, was named in his honor.
Early life and military service
Heintzelman was born in Manheim, Pennsylvania, to Peter and Ann Elizabeth Grubb Heintzelman. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1826 and was commissioned a brevet second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Infantry, July 1, 1826, then in the 2nd U.S. Infantry and served on the Northern frontier at Fort Gratiot, Fort Mackinac, and Fort Brady. On March 4, 1833, he was promoted to first lieutenant and served on quartermaster's duty in Florida during the Second Seminole War. On July 7, 1838, he was appointed captain in the Quartermaster's Department, remaining in Florida until the close of the war in 1842. In 1847, during the Mexican-American War, he joined General Winfield Scott's army in Mexico, taking part in several engagements, for which he was appointed brevet major on October 9, 1847. In 1848-49 he accompanied his regiment around Cape Horn to California, and for several years served in California and the Arizona Territory.
In December 1851, Major Heintzelman led the Yuma Expedition from the post of San Diego to put down the Yuma uprising, called the Yuma War. His expedition established Fort Yuma and peace was made in October, 1852. He received the brevet of lieutenant colonel for his conduct in the campaign against the Yuma Indians and on March 3, 1855, he was promoted to major of the 1st U.S. Infantry and served with that regiment on the Texas frontier. In 1859, during the First Cortina War in Texas, he was largely responsible for the defeat of Juan Cortina's forces.
Heintzelman was the first president of the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company which established the Cerro Colorado, Arizona mining town in southern Arizona. The town became famous during the American Civil War for the massacre of mine employees by Mexican outlaws and for buried treasure.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Heintzelman became the colonel of the 17th Pennsylvania Infantry, and was soon promoted to command of a division in the Army of Northeastern Virginia. He was wounded at the July 1861 battle of Bull Run, but soon recovered and resumed his duties.
Heintzelman was in overall command of the 2nd Michigan Infantry regiment that was responsible for the raid, ransacking, and devastation of the Pohick Church in Lorton, Virginia, on November 12, 1861. The historic church was built in 1769 by George Washington, George Mason, and George William Fairfax, among others, and restored after the War of 1812 by President Martin Van Buren, John Quincy Adams, and Francis Scott Key, among others. This ransacking caused the loss of a myriad of irreplaceable artifacts.
He commanded the III Corps of the Army of the Potomac in the Peninsula Campaign. His corps played a prominent role in the siege of Yorktown where Heintzelman and division commander Fitz John Porter were among the first to use the Union Army Balloon Corps. The corps bore the brunt of the fighting at Williamsburg and saw significant action at Fair Oaks and Oak Grove. His corps was temporarily attached to the Army of Virginia and took part in the Second Battle of Bull Run. He was commissioned as a brevet brigadier general in the regular army for the battle of Fair Oaks and a major general of volunteers for the battle of Williamsburg. His popularity and confidence in the army were eclipsed by the aggressive nature of his subordinate division commanders Joseph Hooker and Philip Kearny. Relieved of duty with the Army of the Potomac in late 1862, he was assigned to the defense of Washington, D.C. in command of the Department of Washington. For the remainder of the war he commanded the Northern Department.
Heintzelman retired in 1869 as a major general in the regulars. He died in Washington, D.C., and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York.
His grandson Stuart Heintzelman served in World War I, and also rose to the rank of Major General